The State of Texas is moving in the right direction. This year, the state legislature is making strides to provide a dignified retirement to their retired public employees and make sure that their teachers are paid adequately.
This year, several state legislatures, including Texas, have tried or are in the process of passing cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for their retired public employees. COLAs are necessary so retirees can keep up with the cost of inflation. As the prices of groceries, medications, and other life necessities increase, without COLAs, retirees are unable to keep up.
In April, Senate Bill 12 was voted out of the State House of Representatives. In the Senate’s version of the bill, retirees were offered a “13th check” of up to $500, but the House took it a step further with their bill, which includes a “13th check” up to $2400. This increase was applauded by the Texas Pension Coalition (TPC), NPPC’s affiliate in state. The House’s version will provide necessary relief to retired public employees and help with the rising cost of inflation. Senate Bill 12 now heads to a conference committee to hash out the details.
Although “13th checks” are not as good as permanent COLAs, they provide an important boost to retiree benefits. Retired public employees, who for the most part stay in their communities after their career in public service, will spend this hard-earned benefit in their home towns and cities. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), pension spending in Texas creates $22 billion in economic output, supports 142,126 jobs, and contributes $3.5 billion to federal, state, and local tax revenue. For a state that has not given their retired public employees a boost in years, this additional benefit will help retirees tremendously.
One other important note about Texas this year is teacher pay raises. In March, the Senate passed Senate Bill 3, which would provide $5,000 annual pay raises for full-time classroom teachers and librarians. Texas teachers haven’t received a pay raise since 2009. Also, both the House and Senate are looking to increase per pupil spending in Texas’ classrooms. These are both big developments in state whose residents are looking for more spending in the classroom and on teachers.